CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America Saturday summary

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 18, 2001) - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal cut loose a spectacular lap on a damp race track in the waning moments of qualifying to capture his fifth FedEx Championship Series pole position of the season Saturday during ...

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 18, 2001) - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal cut loose a spectacular lap on a damp race track in the waning moments of qualifying to capture his fifth FedEx Championship Series pole position of the season Saturday during qualifying for the Motorola 220 at Road America (1 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN).

With barely enough time for an "out" lap and a "flyer" following a red flag to retrieve the stalled car of Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), Brack (Shell Ford Lola) put together a lap of 117.969 miles per hour (2 minutes, 3.531 seconds) on the 4.048-mile road course to claim the top starting position for Sunday's 14th of 21 rounds in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series championship.

The point Brack earned for his series-high fifth pole of the season gave him a two-point (105-103) cushion over Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske in the battle for the FedEx Championship Series championship. Castroneves qualified sixth Saturday at 115.619 mph (2:06.042).

Saturday's speeds were considerably slower than those recorded during testing on Friday, when defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske topped the charts at 144.207 mph (1:41.055). The Road America layout was soaked by rain approximately an hour before qualifying and intermittent showers played a role throughout the hour-long session, for which the drivers were divided into two groups.

Until the final group took its final lap, it appeared that the polesitter was going to be Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who was in line for his first career FedEx Championship Series pole after leading the early qualifying group at an average speed of 114.869 miles per hour (2:06.865). But following the retrieval of Franchitti, and with barely two minutes remaining in the qualifying session, seven drivers from the second group bettered Gidley's speed, led by Brack, whose pole was his first on a road or street course since the season opener at Mexico.

Joining Brack on the front row was Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing, who recorded a lap of 117.832 mph (2:03.674). It marks his career-best start on a road or street course, exceeding third here last year.

Rookie Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group will make a season and career-best start of third after qualifying at 116.928 mph (2:04.631). De Ferran qualified fourth at 116.667 mph (2:04.903), followed by Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, who was fifth at 115.656 mph (2:06.001).

Defending Motorola 220 champion Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green qualified 24th at 109.822 mph (2:10.695).

KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Lola: "Actually, I was right behind Dario when he went off, and I was actually thinking of going into pit lane, but there wasn't a red flag so I kept going, and then the red flag came out. That let me cool the tires down, and we were ready to go for one more lap at the end. In these conditions you can help the car a little bit, but it's most important to find the line. We timed it pretty well, because we were one of the last cars out there, so it worked out. I think for us, it's going to be pretty good. We weren't so fast as the Penskes for most of the sessions, and I don't know how fast we are compared to them. But we're a top-three-or-four car for sure, and if we can start up front and stay there, then it's going to be pretty good."

ALEX TAGLIANI, Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard: "Last year we had some ups and downs and we had a lack of consistency. Lately we've had a good car and we've been consistent, so that's why we've been up there. We just need to score points and stay in the fast group, which is what we've been doing. If we can keep scoring points, it's going to be good. I think there's a lot more to come from the Player's car."

SCOTT DIXON, Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota: "It was definitely very greasy when we started out, and it was pretty exciting the first few times around. Then we had the red flag toward the end, and everybody went out and ran pretty hard for the last lap. Conditions like this, when you practice all weekend in the dry and then you go out in the wet, make it very difficult. You had to attack it a little, but that's why I was worried when I came around for the checkered flag, because some of the other guys were trying pretty hard, too. The conditions were pretty weird for a while, but the track towards the end wasn't that weird. I've been spending a lot of time learning the track, so we don't really know how fast our car is. I guess we'll find out tomorrow."

* FedEx Championship Series points leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) tied Greg Moore and Scott Pruett for 23rd place in CART history with his fifth career pole position Saturday. All five of Brack's poles have come this season, at Mexico, Texas, Milwaukee (where the starting grid was based on championship points), Michigan (where the starting grid was based on practice times), and Road America.

* Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) will make a season-best start from the outside pole, exceeding fifth at Toronto. Tagliani enters Sunday's event with a streak of six straight points-paying finishes - the longest active streak in the FedEx Championship Series championship - dating to a 12th-place finish at Portland and including a career-best runner up effort at Toronto.

* Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) qualified a career-best third for the 13th start of his rookie season, exceeding his previous best of fourth at Portland. Dixon enters Sunday's event with a 70-27 lead over Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the race for the $50,000 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award.

* Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) fourth-place qualifying effort will mark his fifth start of fourth or better in seven career appearances at Road America. He qualified on the outside pole in 1995, '96 and 2000 and also started third in 1999.

Qualifying for the Motorola 220 will air 1 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN, while ESPN's live race broadcast begins 1 p.m. ET. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network and on CART's official website, at www.cart.com .

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske , HART